Shakespeare Legend Kelly McEvenue Pays a Visit to the Coriolanus Set

Crescendo issue: February 2014
Kelly McEvenue could probably teach the Bard himself a thing or two about his myriad works.

She has spent decades immersed within Shakespeare’s works, his hidden nuances, his many messages, his twists and his turns. Through her work, she has utilized the Alexander Technique, teaching that one’s body is the vessel from which great acting flows. McEvenue’s book, The Actor and the Alexander Technique, was first published in England with Methuen in 2001 and then with Palgrave-MacMillan in New York. In addition to her 30-year career with the world-renowned Stratford Festival, she has taught extensively in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and served as a movement consultant for numerous films and television programs. For the past 15 years, she has also worked with Interlochen’s students on their Shakespeare productions.

This year, she came to the campus to help the students understand, and breathe life into, the complicated and varied world of Coriolanus. The Theatre Arts Department will be presenting Coriolanus on February 28 and March 1. McEvenue was particularly excited about working with the students on this production, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known, yet most relevant, stark and real plays.

“Coriolanus is a big, monster of a play,” says McEvenue. “I’m really enjoying it! I was a bit like ‘oh my goodness, Coriolanus?’ But, in fact, it’s a good choice because it has a lot of ensemble work and a lot of crowd and angry mob scenes. There are also a couple of great parts that include young, virile folk. The students can fill the boots of the piece. The Coriolanus actor is really stepping up - he’s a big, complicated guy. You like him, you hate him. That’s what this whole play is about. His pride and his hubris.”

Coriolanus is certainly a play that spans the centuries. The themes of dissatisfaction in one’s role, stepping in over one’s head, fighting the powers that be, corruption, deceit, revenge, politicking and the games therein, these are all themes that continue on the world’s stage today.

Of course, the fact that the students participating in this production are stepping up and are taking on this challenge is no surprise to McEvenue.

“The kids here are great,” she says. “I find this place is like a college. I forget it’s a high school. I forget that they don’t have a certain life experience. This theatre program does very sound work, from technique to acting pedagogy. It’s all well covered and these students know their stuff. Interlochen is a pretty impressive place.”

But, in addition to all that, McEvenue has an even better reason to buy a ticket and take a seat.

“Well, it’s Shakespeare, “ she says. “He never fails. He’s consistent. He’s the greatest writer ever. If you’ve never seen this play, risk coming.”